Easy OHS

Coronial Findings - 11 year Old Girl Killed in Spa

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The New South Wales coroner has recommended major changes to the spa building industry after the "avoidable" drowning death of an 11-year-old girl.

Shannon Rankin died when she was sucked underwater in a spa in the newly-built Sevan Apartments block at Forster on the NSW mid-north coast in 2006.

A coronial inquest heard she was pulled to the bottom by a vortex or a whirlwind and became attached to the drain. 

Deputy state coroner Paul McMahon this morning found the spa was dangerous because it had no emergency stop switch and the drain on the bottom was blocked.

"Her death was a tragedy for her family and friends, a tragedy magnified by the fact it was avoidable," he said.

Mr McMahon called for independent safety checks for the spa building industry. He also said a ban should be placed on installing active main filter drains in the floors of spa pools.

The deputy state coroner also recommended that the public be educated about the dangers of spas.

The girl's parents, Donna and David Rankin, fought back tears as they spoke to reporters after the coroner handed down his findings.

They called on the New South Wales Fair Trading Minister, Virginia Judge, to immediately act on the recommendations.

"Shannon was trapped and held down by 350 kilos of pressure, unable to be freed by three grown men," Mr Rankin said.

"She drowned as a consequence.

"This tragedy was avoidable. We have listened to the details of the coronial inquest, which has been distressing to hear how the incompetence of a flawed system was allowed to be carried out."

The Rankins called for all spa baths and pools to be checked as a result of their daughter's death.

Reported by ABC News: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/02/16/2821004.htm

EasyOHS Comment:

In any business you need to consider customer, contractor and visitor safety, in addition to employee safety....


Have you conducted a thorough risk assessment of the dangers in your premises?

Do you have restricted access to unsafe work areas or entry to potential danger areas?

Do you have tag / test and electrical safety systems in place?

Do you have emergency power isolation switches for potential hazardous equipment?

Do you restrict access to young childen to work areas where chemicals are stored, stairs, stacked items or mobile equipment operate?

Do you have open pits, water or confined spaces that persons / children could enter into?

Do you have hydraulic or pneumatic equipment that could accidentally crush a young child or person (eg:  massage tables, presses, garbage compactors, lifts, escalators)?

After reading about this tragic and preventable death of an innocent 11 year old girl, shouldn't risk management be a priority in your business or organisation?


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